The following is a guest blog post by April Weiner, Foundation Manager at National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF). Veterans History Project (VHP) is very grateful for the long-time participation of the National Court Reporters Association and Foundation in their work to conduct and transcribe interviews. While VHP does not require interviews to be transcribed, the presence of a transcript often helps to make an interview more accessible to researchers.
February 10-17, 2018 marks Court Reporting & Captioning Week. Sponsored by the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA), the event highlights the many aspects of court reporting and captioning that make it a viable profession, including good salaries, flexibility, interesting venues, and the increasing demand for more reporters and captioners to meet the growing number of employment opportunities available in the field.
In addition to preserving the record in courtrooms and other venues across the country, many court reporters and captioners volunteer their skills to transcribe oral histories from VHP. Court reporters and captioners have been listening to and taking down veterans’ stories since NCRF aligned with the Library of Congress in 2003. To date, court reporters have completed more than 4,200 transcripts for VHP and has submitted more than 1,350 individual interviews.
Contributing to VHP in this way is particularly meaningful for people like Nancy Hopp, Chair of NCRF and President of Alaris Litigation Services in St. Louis, Mo., whose father was a Purple Heart recipient during World War II. Hopp gave a speech at the Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOHP) 2017 Annual Convention stressing the importance of talking to veterans about their service, and about NCRF’s new project, the Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project. During her speech she remarked:
Over the course of his life, my dad would tell us isolated anecdotes from his wartime experiences. In 1998, when he was 83 years old and on his deathbed, I flew to Florida to visit him in the hospital. When I arrived, he took off his oxygen mask, and he proceeded to knit together all those little war stories he had shared over the years into one compelling and poignant narrative of his experience.I’m proud of the work court reporters and captioners have done to preserve veterans’ stories. I so wish I could have preserved [my father’s] story both for posterity and as evidence of the personal sacrifices he made. We owe it to you brave men and women to make sure your stories live on for the benefit of your families, historians, and the American people.
NCRF launched the Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project in 2017, an initiative that specifically seeks to interview veterans with hearing loss with the help of Communications Access Realtime Translation (CART) captioning. Hearing loss is among the most common service-related injuries due to constant exposure to loud noises in training and in combat, and it tends to worsen over time. In addition to preserving these veterans’ stories for VHP, the Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project introduces CART captioning, to these veterans which is a service that may benefit them in their daily lives.
To learn more about court reporters’ involvement in the VHP, please visit www.ncra.org/ncrf/oralhistories.
You don’t have to be a court reporter to capture the memories of the veterans in your life. Head to loc.gov/vets to find out how you be a part of history.
*Excerpts from this article originally appeared on TheJCR.com on the August 29, 2017 in the feature “NCRF Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project captures Purple Heart recipient’s stories”